Trojan boys withstand comeback to beat PanthersHorras scores 18 to lead Fairfield
The call could have gone either way.
In the closing minutes of Fairfield’s win Friday over Mt. Pleasant, Panther’s guard Dustin Amos caught a pass on a fast break and went in for a layup that would have taken the lead. Fairfield’s Matt Carr was waiting for him under the basket. They collided, the whistle blew, the shot went in, and each bench erupted, believing the call would go their way. The referee put his arm behind his head, signifying a charge.
“Incredible guts by Matt Carr to step in and hold his ground,” Fairfield coach Tyler Miklo said. “We practice [charges] every day, and I bet it’s everyone’s least favorite part of the day, but it won us a game.”
Carr’s crucial defensive play proved to be fatal to the Panthers, as Fairfield would hold on and win 63-60. Mt. Pleasant guard Zachary Mulford, whose potent shooting led to a 25-point night, barely missed a tying three-pointer at the end of regulation. Just before, Fairfield’s Jordan Whitney made two important free throws to stretch the lead to three for the Trojans.
“We’re going to try and not get too excited about this win because it’s early in the season and we’re still making a lot of mistakes,” said Miklo. “But it’s so much easier to come back to work and fix those things when you can build off of wins.”
Mt. Pleasant (0-3 overall, 0-1 SEC) has had its way with Fairfield (2-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) in recent seasons, and Miklo saw this game as enormous test for his team.
“They’ve kicked our butts as long as I’ve been here,” Miklo said. “So to show our guys that they can compete with a program like that is a big step in the right direction for us.”
The game began with a three-pointer from Mt. Pleasant guard Trey Magnani and a quick bucket from Mulford. Magnani would finish with nine points and led the Panthers with seven assists. Mulford led his team in points and in rebounds. He pulled down nine on the night.
Fairfield would quickly counter with a coast-to-coast layup by Federico Ferretti and a three-pointer from Carr. Carr scored 15 points and went 3-5 shooting behind the arc. He preferred to talk about a teammate’s performance instead of his own.
“I played all right and made my fair share of shots, but Vince Horras really stepped up on offense,” Carr said. “Our rebounding was excellent, and I think that’s what won the game.”
Horras led Fairfield in points with 18. He helped the Trojans get rebounds and take away second chance opportunities for the Panthers. Horras and his 6-foot-9-inch teammate Landon Gamrath each finished with 10 rebounds on the night.
“Fairfield is going to be a tough matchup for everybody because of their size,” Mount Pleasant coach Paul Rundquist said. “It’s hard to constantly battle that size. With that being said, whenever you score 60 points you should probably win the game.”
The Trojans led by seven at halftime, but Mt. Pleasant wouldn’t give up. Mulford led the team back and kept the Panthers within striking distance. Senior guard Brandon Sanchez, who scored 10 points, hit a three to cut Fairfield’s lead to five at the end of the third quarter.
“Mulford was the hot hand, but depending on the night it could be any one of the players,” Rundquist said. “But overall, I think Fairfield did a good job and they had things going on their home court.”
With 2:25 to go, Amos scored and cut the Fairfield lead to two, causing Miklo to call a timeout. The rest of the game was back and forth. Another three-pointer from Sanchez countered a three-point play from Fairfield’s Jordan Reid. The charge and late free throws closed it out.
Both of these teams play again Tuesday. Mount Pleasant will travel to play Cedar Rapids Prairie. Fairfield will play Albia at home.